Being assertive is a crucial skill that will take you far in your career
By PREMA JAYABALAN
Are you someone who stands by your principles and voices them out when the need arises or are you someone who just goes with the flow and keeps mum, but regrets it later? If you fall in the former, then good for you! But if you find yourself nodding to the latter, then it’s time to sit up and be assertive!
Assertiveness is about standing up for your personal rights, expressing your thoughts, feelings and beliefs in a direct, honest and appropriate way.
An important point to note is that when being assertive, we should always respect the beliefs, feelings and thoughts of other people.
An important personal and interpersonal skill – assertiveness enables you to express feelings, wishes, opinions and wants in an appropriate manner. When interacting with family members, friends, colleagues, employers, or customers – assertiveness helps you express yourself in an open, clear and reasonable way, without undermining others. Acquiring this skill enables a person to act in their best interest, to stand up for themselves without anxiety and to express their thoughts and feelings honestly.
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There is a difference
Now, being assertive is one thing but you do not want to come across as domineering and aggressive. There is a huge difference between passive, aggressive, and assertive communication. Passive people do not state their opinions and tend to accept the decisions of others even though they are unfavourable to them. Aggressive people tend to attack and ignore outside opinions – usually forcing their opinions and thoughts on others. Assertive people state their thoughts in a respectable manner and are willing to listen to others.
Communication is key when learning to become skillfully assertive. When faced with any situation, know the right words to use, and the proper way to speak to convey your message effectively.
Change your LINGO
- Instead of saying can’t, say won’t
- Instead of saying need, say want
- Instead of saying have to, say choose to
- Instead of saying should, say could
Ask for time
In difficult situations, you might get too emotional and say things that you would regret. Be honest and tell the person that you need some time to compose your thoughts. It helps you analyse the situation and come up with a favourable response.
Use the word ‘I’ in your statements
To convey basic assertions, use phrases like I want, I feel or I need. An example would be: “I strongly feel that the ideas presented earlier will be beneficial for our upcoming event.” It shows that you are confident in speaking out your thoughts and opinions.
This is needed mainly when working in a team as some of them may not get along with the rest. If you need to get the work completed, you will need to be assertive in your words. Firstly, address how the other person views the situation and then go on to express what you need.
An example would be: “I understand that you have trouble working with Joy. However, this project needs to be completed by Tuesday, so let’s all sit together and discuss an action plan to get the work done.”
Recommended reading: Dealing With Organisational Conflict
Being assertive at work
Try these methods to enhance your skills at work;
- Express your ideas clearly and concisely;
- Speak your mind openly but be sure to do so in a polite manner and don’t criticise or offend others;
- Think about the best time to get your point across;
- Be a good listener. Let everyone speak their thoughts and take their opinions into consideration if they are reasonable;
- Look for solutions that could work well for everyone;
- When you speak your mind, don’t be sorry when others disagree;
- Set clear boundaries on what must be dealt with in the moment and what you can let go;
- Talk from your perspective and share how you feel and what you think;
- Be persistent even if people don’t listen to you initially.
By having the right attitude, proper approach and using the right words, we can successfully complete tasks in our desired way and establish proper communication with people around us. Pay attention to your assertive skills as this could depict you as a highly empowered, influential, approachable and dependable individual.